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Misled and crying

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ASO Family Series: ‘Carnival of the Animals’
Robinson Center
Jan. 29

Young children were not as entertained Sunday by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s “Carnival of the Animals” as we expected. The promotion for the show claimed a famed puppeteer, Bob Bennett, would be bringing animals, and a dream story would be centered around the music: It sounded perfect for a nearly 4-year-old, and apparently a lot of other parents agreed.

Not that the show we saw was lacking ― co-concertmaster Drew Irvin showed his chops on the violin while Ann Nicholson read “Ferdinand the Bull”; Craig O’Neill and Jane Hankins entertained with physical comedy and poems during Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals,” and Carl Anthony and Krishna Thiagarajan dueled on grand pianos. But it wasn’t what was advertised. Apparently all the promotion, and info for the programs, had been settled in August, but since then the show had changed. Without the visual stimuli of puppet animals on the stage during the music, anyone under 7 was probably bored almost immediately. Only, there were LOTS of under 7s. The balcony sounded like a pediatric ward in a large hospital. You couldn’t miss the cries of “I wanna go home,” and even some of the parents’ children were crying, too.

But the music was good. It always is from the ASO, even this smaller version for its Family Series.

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